Earnings Management Strategies During Financial Distress
The IUP Journal of Accounting Research & Audit Practices, Vol. XVII, No. 3, July 2018, pp. 52-78
Posted: 28 Nov 2018
Date Written: July 19, 2018
The paper examines whether financial distress and its severity have a role to play in managers’ decisions with respect to the choice of earnings management strategies. The results suggest that firms in initial stages of distress engage in real earnings management through a reduction in the spending on selling and general and administrative expenses, and through classification shifting to increase profitability and liquidity. When distress becomes severe, firms cut back on production, engage in income-increasing accruals management, and increase their spending on selling and general and administrative expenses. Initial under-spending on selling and general and administrative expenses is opportunistic with an intention to show improved performance. In extreme distress, increase in such spending is a sound economic decision. The findings provide insights into how managers of distressed firms trade off between liquidity, profitability and solvency both in the short run and the long run.
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